BY KELLY MASTERS
Pre-season stepped up a notch when the 2020 Intra Club Match got underway in perfect conditions on Saturday.
This year’s Intra Club Match was held at Highgate Recreation Reserve in Craigieburn, a venue the Lions will become very familiar with throughout the Home and Away season.
The first two quarters of the day lasted 20 minutes each, while the second half featured two shorter 15-minute terms.
Dividing the list into two and having extra players step in to help with numbers, it allowed for a competitive test of 18 each side. ‘Team Still’ wore the dark blue home jumpers, while ‘Team Hounslow’ donned the red away guernsey.
Those who were unable to take part in the match from the rehab group trained prior to the game, while Billy Cannolo added some extra cardio in as the Runner for Team Hounslow.
Red won the toss and elected to kick with the wind towards the Grand Blvd end before Adam Swierzbiolek met young gun Josh Hotchkin in the ruck to get the action underway.
Both teams were able to get plenty of touch early on, and the work rate from both the red and blue was second to none.
Neither side shied away from pressing forward throughout all four quarters, although not all opportunities inside 50 were able to be capitalized on due to the heavy pressure from those down back.
In front of eager fans who were keen to see how the Lions are shaping up, all of the new recruits caught the attention of those who made the journey to Craigieburn. Aaron Clarke, Josh D’Intinosante, Athan Tsialtas, Jake Sutton, and Tom Silvestro also showcased their goalkicking skills.
Familiar faces Luke Bunker and Hedley Smith added goals to their team’s tally, while multiple players who filled in as Lions for the day also made a mark.
There was a lot to like about the midfield group’s efforts, particularly from Jacob Ballard and Marcus Lentini who were both notably busy from the first bounce.
The backline in both sides kept composed under pressure as numerous defensive acts were displayed, making it incredibly hard for the forwards.
With thorough work on Match Simulation at training over pre-season so far, both teams were competitive, unforgiving at the contest, and displayed promising signs of what’s to come from this group.
After a successful day as the Red Team Coach, Mark Hounslow was pleased to see all the pre-season training focuses in a match format.
“Getting into games and seeing everything you’ve practiced I think that’s the key thing, and seeing everything that you’ve practiced over the pre-season now being put into games. I think it was great today to see the positivity amongst the boys and just realizing what we’re trying to teach is working.”
“Fitness-wise I thought they were great today. I thought the group seemed to run out the game pretty well, but each game that goes by they’ll progress better and better and by round one will be right to go.”
Speaking post-match, Forwards and Blue Team Coach Michael Still was impressed with how both red and blue approached the game.
“It was terrific to watch all the hard work in pre-season and now get to see it against some opposition in a game scenario it was really exciting. Positive signs for us. Offensively with our ball movement, some passages were terrific, and defensively as well they were efficient,” he said.
The confidence and belief heading to the first practice match next week is noticeable, with a squad in great physical shape and all already pushing for a Round 1 spot. The Lions will be taking on Box Hill at la Trobe University next Saturday (29th February) in their first official practice match of the year from 10:30 am.
TEAM HOUNSLOW – (RED) 8.6.54
TEAM STILL (BLUE) – 4.6.30